Can they take my house?

by Jennifer

My father passed away with about fifteen thousand dollars owed to many creditors, the first mortgage was payed off immediately. The second mortgage is taking a bit longer to get rid of. I have lived in this house since before my father bought it, but my name was not listed as a beneficiary or anything. He didn't have a will so the house has to go through probate as an asset, but I'm afraid they will make me sell the house to pay off his credit cards. Can credit card companies do this or will they typically write it off? I don't want to lose my home.

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Feb 21, 2014
House willed to me but have a lien on it
by: renee

I have a question I have been left a house in a will by my grandmother but she had passed away for 3 months now. But in 2008 there was a lien put on the house without her knowing and signing the served papers and the lien was from her daughter opening up credit cards in her name without her knowing and the amount of the lien is 4,536.92. From what I have read it went to collections in 2005 and the lien was put on the house in 2008 What will happen with the lien and the house getting but in my name? Can they come after me and put the lien towards me to pay? Please help I have been raised in this house and don't want to lose it. I want to keep this house in the family and give it to my child. Please help.

Reply from Your situation is complicated. Has the house actually been legally transferred into your name? I ask because typically before such that transfer can happen, all outstanding liens and other debts owed by your grandmother would have to be paid using the assets in her estate. In other words, the person your grandmother designated as her executor in her will cannot transfer her assets to your grandmother's beneficiaries, like you, without first paying as many of your grandmother's debts as possible using the cash and other assets in your grandmother's estate. That may require that all or some of her assets be liquidated or sold to pay the debts.

My best advice is to consult with a probate law attorney right away. The attorney will help you sort things out. Oh, and by the way, the lien holder does not have the right to come after you for the amount of the lien unless you and your grandmother owned her home together or you were a co-signer on the debt associated with the lien.

Oct 15, 2012
Can they take my house?

So sorry about the death of your father. I know that this must be a difficult time for you. I hope the information and advice I provide will make things a little easier for you.

When an estate is probated, the creditors of the deceased are notified so they can file claims to try to collect what they are owed from the assets in the estate during the probate process. Sometimes the executor of the estate must sell assets to pay the creditors who have filed valid claims. However, if there is not enough in the estate to pay them then typically the unpaid creditors are out of luck.

The credit card companies that your father died owing money to are unsecured creditors. Therefore, unlike a mortgage lender they do not have an automatic lien on his home, and so if they want to try to collect what they are owed out of the equity in the house, they must sue your father's estate and get permission to put a lien on the property. Even if they do, they cannot take the home or make you sell it. Instead, they must wait until the home is sold or refinanced to get paid.

That said, every state has its own laws regarding probate, the process in each state is not the same, and I am definitely not an expert on the ins and outs of the process in each state. Therefore, I highly recommend that you contact Ask Estate Lawyers Now to confirm exactly how your father's debts will be handled.

One other thing, unless you and your father shared any of his credit accounts -- they were joint accounts -- you are not legally obligated to pay them if the creditors are unable to get paid or do not get everything the full balances your father owed them. Go here to read more information on this subject, deceased person’s debt FAQ

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